Black Legion Tactica: Despoilin’ with the Despoiler

BBF here to share some tactical insight into playing Chaos Space Marines a new way for 40k.

Black Legion is known for their terminators and their very best were referred to as Justearin during the Horus Heresy and prior to that period of strife. Every Legion had access to terminators but there was something very special about the Justearin – they were true monsters back in the day. Many members of the Lupercalia rose up from these very ranks such as Abbadon and Horus always wore terminator plate in battle. Now the Justearin are known as Bringers of Despair, infused with daemonic possession, and that they do so well !

Horde armies are the new black so what better way to counter them than bringing a low model count super elite army ? The army I present has very solid shooting versus infantry-monsters-vehicles, excels in melee and has lots of nasty tricks up its sleeve. It can be easily countered if your opponent tailors specifically against it but it does well versus most anything else. I have a lot of experience playing the same type of army for Horus Heresy (30k) which I feel has converted well to straight into eighth edition 40k.

Here’s the army list I’ve been using …

Black Legion List

++ Vanguard Detachment +1 CP (Chaos – Chaos Space Marines) ++

Legion – Black Legion

+ HQ [20 PL, 398 pts] +

Abaddon the Despoiler

Sorcerer in Terminator Armour:
Mark of Tzeentch
Eye of Tzeentch
Psychic Powers – Death Hex & Warp Time
Combi-Bolter & Force Axe

+ Elites [56 PL, 867 pts] +

Chaos Terminators:
Mark of Khorne
Chaos Terminator Champion: Chain Fist & Combi-Bolter
Terminator: Combi-Bolter & Power Axe
Terminator: Combi-Bolter & Power Axe
Terminator: 2x Lightning Claw
Terminator: 2x Lightning Claw
Terminator: 2x Lightning Claw
Terminator: 2x Lightning Claw
Terminator: Heavy Flamer & Power Fist

Chaos Terminators:
Mark of Slaanesh
Chaos Terminator Champion: Combi-Bolter & Power Fist
Terminator: Combi-Melta & Power Fist
Terminator: Combi-Bolter & Power Fist
Terminator: Combi-Melta & Power Axe
Terminator: Heavy Flamer & Power Axe ü

Chaos Terminators:
Mark of Tzeentch
Chaos Terminator Champion & 2x Lightning Claw
Terminator: Combi-Melta & Power Axe
Terminator: Combi-Bolter & Power Axe
Terminator: Combi-Bolter & Power Axe
Terminator: Heavy Flamer & Power Fist

+ Heavy Support [38 PL, 734 pts] +

Chaos Land Raider:
Mark of Slaanesh
Havoc Launcher
Twin Heavy Bolter
2x Twin Lascannon

Chaos Land Raider:
Mark of Tzeentch
Havoc Launcher
Twin Heavy Bolter
2x Twin Lascannon

++ Total: [114 PL, 1999 pts] ++

How It Works

You’ve got 6 command points total since Abbadon automatically grants 2 command points and another two since this list is Battle Forged. The two five man Chaos terminator squads each ride in a Chaos Land Raider while Abbadon, the Sorcerer and the eight man terminator squad all teleport onto the battlefield.

Small armies are inherently easy to play as you have less mental book keeping – they do require more skill though than blob armies so there is definitely a trade off but it can work for you in a winning way if you’ve got the stones to roll with an elite army like this one.

A basic tactic is to rush your opponent with the Land Raiders ferrying Chaos Terminators while the deep striking units come in close to their line to disrupt. Casting Warp Time on the eight man Chaos Terminator ensures a first turn charge… you can multi assault to prevent as many enemy units as possible without the Fly keyword from shooting their next turn. Smart opponents will deploy in such a manner to prevent you from deploying your deep striking units deep into their backfield so come in front of them on one flank bringing in the Land Raiders for close by support. Smart opponents will also bubble wrap their best units with chaff like conscripts but a unit like this can easily gut one blob on the charge… remember you can pop the Khornate stratagem to assault twice plus if Abbadon is within range they reroll all missed hits. Removing one large blob first turn and scoring First Blood is a big deal.

The Sorcerer is a big part of what makes this army grind opponents to dust therefore it’s vital to properly screen him with the Land Raiders so your opponent can’t pick him off easily their next turn during the shooting phase. Death Hex is one of the best psychic powers in the Chaos Space Marine codex versus armies that rely upon invulnerable saves for key units… it will absolutely wreck units like the Swarmlord and Canoptek Wraiths. Eye of Tzeentch helps to ensure you successfully cast Smite and furthers your odds to blowing out a super Smite for d6 mortal wounds.

Abbadon is one of the best melee units in the game and my third article will delve into how to get the most bang for your buck with the Despoiler.

~ Do you prefer small elite armies these days How are they faring in your area?

  • euansmith

    I’ve not played 8th; how to Terminators fair with save modifiers? I remember Terminator Wing armies being irritating to play in 5th with all those 2+ saves. Often a whole lot of die rolling for no result.

    • Justin Pettett

      Elites are worthless in this edition take bodies, bodies, bodies!

      • 301stFeinminsterArmoured

        Tanks and Characters are better than Infantry, because morale doesn’t work on them.

        • Mike Forrey

          Deathwing terminators would like to have a word with you. The problem at the tournament level is that objectives aren’t pushed enough and composition doesn’t mean jack. If they made the HOBBY part of the game mean something those spam lists would go away real fast.

          • 301stFeinminsterArmoured

            Kay. I was only half-serious when I made this comment, as I was attempting to respond in the spirit of Mr. Pettett’s comment. As far as I’m concerned, you should play what fits your playstyle. I just happen to like those units.

      • LankTank

        I wouldn’t say they are useless. Blobs of chaff are great but they are objectives and screens. With Alpha Strike and many units who can fall back and still shoot/fight though, having a unit that has the punch to wipe a unit in one phase such as combi plasma termi’s is essential. They can then assault another unit. IMO though you have to either only have 1 or 2 heavy hitters then a good screen/table control horde. I would be interested to see how an army dedicated to elite would do

    • I haven’t seen them on the table yet. I’ve tried Mega Nobs once so far they lasted a while. I’d use them in a list.

    • Malisteen

      they also have two wounds, and invulnerable saves. And they make good use of the various aligned defensive spell buffs. They’re not exactly the competitive peak, but they can get work done. Especially combi-plasma armed slaaneshi terminators with the shoot-twice stratagem, which can cripple valuable enemy units in a single turn, potentially justifying their inclusion in your army before the opponent has a chance to even start killing them. If they’re still around the turn after deep striking with them, that’s basically gravy.

  • Nick Chan

    You automatically generate 3CP for being battle forged

  • Rainthezangoose

    I’m no game designer, but the idea of a first turn charge always felt like something that should be a big no-no in my terms. I mean in regards to it actually being something you’re capable of doing, if you know what I mean.

    • lemt

      I think the only army with a 100% first turn assault are Tyranids with the Swarmlord in a pod. Every other army relies on either a psychic power (which has to succeed and you can defend against) or really low chance of success.

      • Malisteen

        raven guard and alpha legion can get virtually guaranteed (as long as they don’t roll snake eyes on the charge dice) first turn charges by use of stratagems, at the cost of one command point per infantry unit they want to forward deploy.

        • lemt

          Only if they go first. Otherwise you just deployed a unit very close to the enemy, and they’ll have a turn to deal with them. So even then it’s about 50% of going first, and then they have to make a very short charge. I mentioned Tyranids because they can just drop-pod the Swarmlord, he has a special rule to auto-move himself (or someone else if you drop-pod, say, a unit of 20 genestealers), and then you have to make a minimum charge. Since it’s from a drop pod, the enemy can’t manage to go first and kill your “turn 1” strategy.

          • 301stFeinminsterArmoured

            Charging from Reserves is really the only reliable way to do a first-turn charge.

          • Do you even roll bruh ?!?

      • memitchell

        Maybe I’m misreading you, but, any army that can deepstrike in any form has a decent chance of getting off a first turn assault. Just need to roll a “9” on 2D6, with a CP re-roll of one die. That’s not a really low chance of success.

        • lemt

          To roll a 9 or more on a 2D6 is a 27.78% chance. With a re-roll of one dice you get… 47.8%? That’s still barely 50% even using the re-roll. A 50% chance is not something you can base a competitive strategy around.

          • Marco Marantz

            Cmon most of how 40K works is on a D6 roll of 4+ – been that way for a while.

          • Wow do you even read bruh ?!(

        • lemt… 😆😆😆😆

      • 301stFeinminsterArmoured

        Eldar Jetbikes, Genestealer Cults, Scars/Raven Guard, Tallarn Armoured (need to verify the wording on Russ Squadrons, but you can get an average 5″ charge from their Russes, from Reserves no less, for 3 CP). They can get first turn charges off by being aggressive enough, although Tallarn and the Bike lists have better odds.

        • 301stFeinminsterArmoured

          Correction: 3″ charge on the Tallarn Russes. Every time.

          • 301stFeinminsterArmoured

            Also, has anyone noticed that the “no characters,” clause on Tank Commanders is gone?

      • He could die from oversnatch… seen it happen bruh 😁

    • Heinz Fiction

      Whats the difference to first turn shooting honestly (other than you can overwatch and even strike back)?

    • Malisteen

      In this edition, where units can freely walk out of close combat, it’s really no different from first turn shooting. Now, a first turn assault by, say, fiends of slaanesh, or skarbrand, or something else that just outright prevents withdrawl moves, that might be something else, but afaik there’s nothing that does that yet.

    • memitchell

      A first turn assault is not bad game design. Unless, there is no way to defend against it, or minimize it’s effects. Bad game design is a one trick pony. In any case, 8th is a shooting game. Assault is risky, and not necessarily game ending.

      • Mike Forrey

        Understanding what units to assault and which ones to not is a big part of the game. Some units are just a waste of time assaulting while others can be devastating to the opponent if they get charged. It doesn’t even have to be that you hurt them badly in the CC phase. Just preventing them from firing their best weapons on anything but a 6 is good enough.

    • LankTank

      It’s not as bad as it seems with some simple screen units and deployment. It actually adds alot of thematic tension of a lighting assault out of nowhere into some week chaff unit. But if you left a gap you will quickly be taught a lesson

    • Do you even roll bruh ?!?

  • lemt

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but the blob of terminators has a REALLY low chance of killing even a single unit of 30 conscripts backed by a commissar. Even then it’s only possible if you use the stratagem to have them fight twice. I just don’t see how this list has a fighting chance against a good horde list.

    • Jared van Kell

      Which is why you use it. Because it is effective.

      • lemt

        A 300+ point unit having to use command points to MAYBE kill a 90 point unit is not “effective” by any definition of the term. Even without a commissar so you probably DO kill that unit… it’s still barely making a dent.

        • Michael Goldsberry

          Clearing bubble wrap might not be effective points wise, but tactically sound. if you wipe the unit and can then consolidate within an inch of the warlord or character, even if the termies don’t kill, it does a good job of putting people on their back foot.

        • You just don’t get it lemt wrist

        • LankTank

          You have to remember that this screen unit is protecting only ONE flank, and once you break through that and hit their weak command centre, the army will be ALOT less effective. Also you can take 5 combi flamer termi’s shooting twice to carve through. You don’t even have to kill all of them, just enough to open a pocket to move in. So in the end while your 300 pts is fighting 90 pt unit, it is actually still very strong. And then they have a unit they MUST dedicate their army to the following turn

        • Marco Marantz

          I agree and the other replies simply dont seem to understand the game. If you dont wipe out that blob you cant consolidate into vehicles or HQs so you dont tie them up. Worse, your opponent could withdraw the remainder of the blob in his turn then focus everything up his side of the table on your precious elite deepstriking unit, unless you have other FAST units that will be piling in next turn that might force him to split his fire. Unless you have warp time flamers are useless and you cant make a charge to a target behind a screen because you will have deployed 9″ from the screen. The juicy target is even further away reducing the odds of making that charge even if a hole was made. The above list would need to deploy all terminators in deepstrike.

          • lemt

            Thank you

          • Deilingar

            What if in a very unlikely situatoin the guard player has more than one unit of conscripts (this is all hypothetical since we all know how expensive and useless unit conscripts are and no one would ever take more than one unit of them) and he moves them to intercept this imminent danger if it didn’t simply get shot to pieces?

            Like lemt said, this army doesn’t have a big chance against a horde list, that is just how it is.

            Rock-paper-scissors and all that

    • Deilingar

      That khorne unit has a total of 21 attacks (plus 3.5 for every 6′ to hit against imperium) so no they are not able to kill 30 conscripts in a single combat.

      Statistically they kill ~3 guys in the shooting (warp time for flamer range) and ~12.5 guys in combat (~16.6 with re-roll to hit)

      • Malisteen

        then they attack again with the khorne stratagem. So yeah, they’ve got a decent chance of one shotting a horde, theoretically, if they keep in range of Abby. BUT, they can’t reliably keep in range of abby AND charge, since this army is using warp time on them instead of on abby, so abby is relying on a long range charge with a single die re-roll to make it in, which just isn’t reliable. And you’re talking four of your six command points burned in the first turn.

        In this sort of list, I would skip the lightning claws and go with combi bolters and power weapons. less melee power, but much more shooting, should be more effective against those blobs in total while also saving points overall.

        The real change I’d make, though, is to skip khorne termies in favor of slaanesh, at least for the big central unit. The shoot twice stratagem is more reliable, and cheaper, and you don’t have to worry about them wandering out of Abby’s aura range, plus the slaaneshi FNP buff is great on termies.

        When it comes to khornate terminators, I’m more a fan of multiple msu squads with default gear (combi bolters & power axes) and icons, deep striking & hoping for a lucky long range charge with their rerolls. Two of those, plus a bigger slaaneshi combi plas squad supported by abby and a slaaneshi prescience/agonies termi sorcerer, with enough cultists and fire support units deployed normally to let all the terminators teleport in.

        • Deilingar

          I would rather say that those 3 command points killed the other half of the unit, which is probably not the best 3 spent command points you will ever see

      • I thought a pair of lightning claws is three base attacks. Anyways even at eight terms at 2 base attacks that’s 2*2*8 = 32

        • Deilingar

          Pair of lightning claws fives them 3 attacks, being a champion gives him 3 attacks,
          having 5 guys with 3 attacks each and another 3 guys with 2 attacks each gives you what? probably about 21 attacks

          • It’s an eight man squad so even at two base attacks striking twice in a row is 32 attacks.

          • Deilingar

            Well since the unit has 21 attacks base they probably will get 42 attacks all in all if you decide to spend 3 command points to let them fight again

          • Do you even roll bruh ?!?

          • Marco Marantz

            If its vs conscripts or guardsman then DttFE will net you about 7 more on avg

          • He has no real idea !!!

          • Deilingar

            Where do you think “(plus 3.5 for every 6′ to hit against imperium) “ comes from?

    • Mike Forrey

      That’s why you have to play with scout snipers and sniper assassins. Horde armies survive on the leaders making the blobs not melt in morale phase. Anything that can get at those characters will work though.

  • Leics Fox

    Just a thought

    maybe it isn’t a good thing that the largest traitor force in lore requires their overall commander to be most effective on the tabletop

    • memitchell

      Doesn’t the most popular loyal force need it’s Primarch? Again, also not a good thing.

    • Malisteen

      It would be a problem if they needed him to be effective at all, but if they weren’t at their most effective when he’s there, if his presence somehow made them less effective, I’d think that would be the problem.

      Thousand sons should be at their most effective when Magnus is there commanding them directly. Death Guard should be at their most effective when Mortarion is personally leading the fight. Ultramarines should be at their most effective when led by Rowboat Guy-Man, and the Black Legion should be most dangerous when Abaddon takes the field with them.

      • Leics Fox

        that is a fair point and well laid out. However you miss slightly what I was getting a; current lore encourages all BL players to go for one type of army, often with Abaddon at the head…and to me this seems to clash with them being the largest traitor force drawn from many sources.

        • Wrong bruh

        • Malisteen

          Eh. I mean, the lore encourages black legion to take anything and everything. Their mechanics, their legion trait, implies something a bit more specific than that, but their legion trait isn’t actually any good, so you might as well just ignore it and field whatever you like anyway. Honestly, the only legion trait in the CSM book worth getting worked up over is the Alpha Legions, so if you aren’t playing Alphas the situation is pretty much the same regardless.

          I don’t think it’s a big problem either way, since the base rules for CSMs under their current book, while far from amazing, are still at least halfway decent. Certainly a fair sight better, both in terms of thematics and mechanical quality, than they have been for the last decade or so.

    • Do you even roll bruh ?!

      • Mike Forrey

        Good luck killing Bobby G.

    • Mike Forrey

      Abaddon isn’t even all that hard to kill. Which is kinda pathetic IMO.

  • Richard Mitchell

    With the new meta it seems like the best way to play CSM is with a core of CSM’s backing a horde of either demons or cultists. Which may be sad for some but when you think about it…is the most fluffy way to play CSMs.

    • Marco Marantz

      Until you come up against some LR Punishers.

  • 301stFeinminsterArmoured

    A Spartan and some Scarab Occult would be more efficient, although a Mastodon with 15 Terminators and a Rifleman Decimator would straight-up murder anyone they came across.

    • Theoryhammer bruh ?

      • 301stFeinminsterArmoured

        Maybe, but 30-40 T9, 2+ wounds, with invulns against Mortal Wounds and loads of primo dakka, is more appealing to me. What can I say, I’m a fan of Party-bus lists.

      • 301stFeinminsterArmoured

        Made this list. Less Terminators, but more CP and more shooting.

    • Marco Marantz

      Mastodons dont have anywhere near enough firepower. All those units being transported need to be firing or they are a waste of points.

  • Marco Marantz

    I do like its style but I think this list is no good as it is limited anti-tank. 2 land raiders are not a guaranteed kill on a leman russ style vehicle. I dont know why you would give MoT to a terminator squad and not group up the combi meltas for dedicated anti-tank.

    • It’s better to spread the melta throughout the army.

  • Jeremy Larson

    Fun fact most khorne players forget, if you charged in the previous phase, you can ONLY attack what you charged in that fight phase, regardless of how many times you get to swing. So the above tactic CAN work, but only if you declare a charge against a butt-load of units that will all get to overwatch on you.